When pop punk band Simple Plan emerged on the scene in 2002 with their breakout hit “I’m Just A Kid,” they launched a new emo pop revolution. Along with bands such as Good Charlotte and New Found Glory, Simple Plan was riding the wave of heavy TRL and radio rotation with a fresh sound that fans of both pop and rock could enjoy. Fast forward to 2008. It has been four years since they have dropped a new record. Now, on February 12th, the French Canadian-based quintet released their third full-length album, the self-titled “Simple Plan.”
Although remaining true to the style that generated seven million in record sales worldwide and produced more than a handful of Top 40 singles, Simple Plan knew that they had to come back strong in a new market. Today’s music scene is very different from the one they first encountered. In those early days, the airwaves were dominated by the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. Against the backdrop, Simple Plan sounded absolutely original. Today, however, these same radio stations play the music of other pop punk bands such as Fall Out Boy and Boys Like Girls back to back. To help them stand out in this very different crowd, the band recruited new producers such as Max Martin (Avril Lavigne) and Timbaland protégé Nate “Danja” Hills, who most recently received recognition as the man behind Britney Spears’ comeback single, “Gimme More,” along with many tracks off her newest album “Blackout.”
Some fans who read about Simple Plan’s switch to different producers to create a more contemporary sound were worried that their favorite band would become a corporate sellout. After the lead single “When I’m Gone” surfaced online, however, fans were able to breathe easy. By adding a synthesized backbeat, the song takes the band’s signature sound and intensifies it. Meanwhile, lead singer Pierre Bouvier still sounds just as whiny and is ready to tackle a new Jonas Brothers generation of angst-filled teens, while keeping the older fans happy.
The opening to the second single “Your Love Is A Lie,” starts out sounding like it’s an electronic remix of an 80’s power ballad. But it morphs quickly into the trademark Simple Plan everyone from our generation has grown to know. It is quite extraordinary how true the band has remained to themselves, yet still finding a way to sound completely different than they ever have before.
One track that truly stands out on the album, simply due to the fact that it is so unlike the rest of the record is “The End.” The song sounds like a mixture between R&B and techno underneath a rock & roll umbrella, making the listener want to both rock out and hit the dance floor at the same time. Similarly, “Generation” incorporates elements of hip hop throughout the verses, before striking the guitar chords and causing the crowd to surf called upon by the heavier chorus.
In the tradition of their huge hits “Perfect” and “Untitled” from their past two albums, Simple Plan includes anoter massive cliché ballad. This time around, the song is “I Can Wait Forever,” a lament about not being able to near the one you love. “When you call my heart stops beating, when you’re gone it won’t stop bleeding, but I can wait, I can wait forever” croons Bouvier over both a full band and orchestra. It is a nice song, but unfortunately relatively lackluster compared to its equivalents on the previous two records.
Overall, the band did a phenomenal job contemporizing their sound while still remaining true to their origins. In today’s market, however, they’ll most likely just be seen as another pop punk band, as opposed to one of the ones that started it all.
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